When I saw the first trailer for What Happens in Vegas, only one thing crossed my mind: "That looks terrible!" As the next trailer arrived and the posters started appearing at local theaters, my initial thoughts remained unchanged. There was nothing that I saw leading up to its release that convinced me that this was going to in any way, shape, or form be a good movie. All that said, I decided to give it the opportunity to surprise me.
Yes, I decided to go and subject myself to this movie. As I walked the long walk down the hallway to my date with destiny and the screening auditorium, I resigned myself to make the best of it and hope for the best. I mean, who knows? It is quite possible that I would be surprised by a quality movie. Speed Racer's trailers did not exactly point to a "good" movie and I enjoyed that immensely. There I went, once more into the breach.
Still with me? Good. The movie is over, and I am sad to report that my initial feelings were confirmed. What Happens in Vegas is not a good movie, not by a long shot, but it is also not bad in the "pluck my eyeballs out" sense. It was more like the "Seriously, does anyone really care?" fashion. It is a film with modest expectations, mediocre execution, and will likely be forgotten inside of six months, much like a number of other titles in both of the leads' respective filmographies.
I think a big part of the problem is that the romantic comedy subgenre is rather stagnant. This genre has become so driven by formula that it has become increasingly difficult to craft a romantic comedy that feels fresh and new. So what it boils down to is the chemistry between the leads and the overall quality of writing. This year has already had examples at both ends of the spectrums. At one end of the spectrum you get the likes of Made of Honor and Over Her Dead Body, both of which have decent conecepts but fail in the final execution. At the other end of the spectrum are films like 27 Dresses, which works the formula well and has a very likable lead, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a film that fires on all cylinders while twisting the formula, yet never leaving the general area. These two films are good examples of writing and acting that make the genre work. As for What Happens in Vegas? Well, the leads are likable enough, so that leaves the problems in execution at the feet of the writers and director.